A stretched wheelbase version of the Tesla Model S could debut later this year ahead of a 2015 debut, we’ve learned through a Tesla insider. The longer Model S will serve both as a livery vehicle in the U.S. and Europe, as well as to appeal to Chinese consumers who place a premium on rear legroom.
We got this info from a tipster inside Tesla who asked to remain anonymous, but confirmed what we’ve long expected. The stretched Tesla Model S will likely break cover later this year, possibly before the production version of the Model X. While the obvious target is livery companies, a longer Model S is important to Chinese customers as well, many of whom prefer to be driven around rather than drive themselves. When some Chinese traffic jams can last days or even weeks, it’s understandable why some people wouldn’t even bother getting behind the wheel.
Mercedes, BMW, and other luxury automakers all offer long-wheelbase versions of their popular premium sedans specifically for Chinese clients, and there’s no reason Tesla can’t do the same. It’s an easy way to broaden the appeal to China’s high-end car buyers, and it can be done at little cost.
The Tesla Model S could use the extra space to be honest, as one of the main gripes from my Tea Party friend during our test drive of the Model S was the lack of room in the back seat. Granted, he’s a bigger guy, but his complaints have been echoed by Tesla fans and buyers for years now. Elon Musk has promised new features and upgrades to keep the Tesla Model S feeling fresh, and there’s little doubt that there’s demand for different variants based on the Model S, including coupe and convertible conversions.
Our source was quick to point out that the timeline is fluid, however, as Chinese orders for the Model S are solid even without a long wheelbase version. While Tesla has an eye on the commercial market as well, a lot of resources and talent are occupied with the Model X, which has encountered delays due to its unique falcon-wing doors. With the Model X being a priority, a stretched Model S might not show up in public until next spring or later, though an earlier debut isn’t out of the question either.
When press about the possibility of other Model S variants however, our source was less forthcoming. A longer Model S might be the most we can expect from Tesla at the moment, as coupe and convertible versions are seeming less and less likely. Stretching out a car is one thing, but these other variants are probably too time and money intensive to go beyond the photoshop phase.